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The Last Time... With James Blake

DEUCE

James Blake© Getty Images

American James Blake reveals to DEUCE the last time...

I hired a tennis court?
It’s definitely been a while. I guess it was during the 2006 US Open, when my coach Brian Barker and I took time out from the media attention at Flushing Meadows and went off-site to Grand Central tennis courts. I think it cost $150 or something per hour to hire a court.

I met a childhood hero?
That would have been [former basketball player] Michael Jordan, immediately after the 2007 Australian Open. I loved watching him compete and play. I loved his intensity in every game.

I played a match that no-one watched?
When I started to come back in 2005, after my neck fracture and Zoster condition the previous year, I was outside of the Top 200 and played a couple of Challenger events. I distinctly remember at Tunica Resorts in Mississippi [May 2005] that not many people watched matches that week. It was pretty much one man and his dog.

I cooked for myself?
I never cook! As players we stay in hotels and travel all the time, so it must have been at least 10 years ago when I cooked macaroni and cheese – nothing difficult.

I shared a hotel room with another player?
I’m not sure about a player, but I stayed one night in the same room as my coach at Basel in October last year as the hotel was overcrowded.

Being recognised helped me?
Last week it definitely helped me in Rome because Brian and I were jogging on a track we weren’t supposed to be on. They must have recognised me as a tennis player, because despite not knowing Italian they were very easy on us.

I was asked if I was a tennis player?
That wasn’t that long ago, it was probably during Memphis in February this year.

I broke a string in a match?
I guess it was when I lost to Tomas Berdych [6-4, 6-7(3), 6-3] in Miami in March. I don’t break too many strings, but it will happen soon. I get the frames re-strung before every match, but I’m not like some of the players who change racquets with every ball change.

I forgot something important?
I’m pretty good at remembering important dates, as I have an assistant who helps me out. So it’s been a while, I never forgot my Mum, Dad and brother’s birthday.

I had to show my credential badge at a tournament?
I’m pretty much okay in the States, but the security is strict at the door in Indian Wells [BNP Paribas Open] so I needed to show it there in March.

I played a competitive sport other than tennis?
I played in a little golf tournament at my local country club just before Andy Roddick’s wedding. My handicap is 10, but I’m not very good. I very rarely played as a kid, but just started playing a little more. I play 5-10 times a year, but a little more in the last 12 months. I wouldn’t say I’m a natural at ball games.

I had a really unusual fan request?
The last time I checked my mail!

I played a practical joke in the locker room?
At Davis Cup we play plenty! The best one was against France in a 2002 semi-final in Paris. Todd Martin thought he could never be gotten with a practical joke. We [Blake, Roddick and Mardy Fish] had had a food fight in the locker room and he thought we were so immature. But I got him with a whipped-cream pie in his face during an interview with ESPN the next day. The last question was ‘can the young guys get you with a practical joke?’ and he said ‘no’.

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